Find out what’s on at Open House London this year, including event types, safety measures and changes due to the pandemic.
With the Covid-19 pandemic still continuing, “normal life” is still a way off from returning. So this year, Open House London is expanded to the Open House Festival, with additional events taking place over a longer period than the usual weekend. This annual event is essentially a festival of architecture and history, where some of London’s most interesting buildings open their doors to the public for free. From private homes to government buildings to offices and hidden historical sites, it’s a great opportunity to explore the capital beyond what is usually accessible. Open House London is one of my favourite weekends of the year and I’ve seen inside some amazing buildings in previous years. It’s also an opportunity to visit some London attractions, such as museums (that you would usually have to pay for) for free. The main weekend takes place 19-20 September 2020, with more activities taking place up to 27 September. As part of the festival, Open House Families will be hosting various events around the capital for children to discover the city’s architecture and history.
Is Open House London different this year because of Covid-19?
Yes. Many buildings that usually take part are unable to open safely this year, so many are offering virtual, online experiences instead. Those venues that are allowing physical visits will be subjected to typical safety requirements, including social distancing, restrictions on group sizes (rule of six applies), one way systems and requirements to wear a face mask and bring hand sanitiser. You will also be required to give your information as part of the Government’s Test and Trace scheme. Open City is advising Londoners to stay local to their homes so travelling long distance and using public transport is kept to a minimum. In addition to virtual and physical building visits, there will also be guided and self-guided walking and cycling tours.
Do I need to book in advance?
For the buildings that are allowing physical visits, some are requiring people book in advance, while others are allowing walk ups. However, at the walk ups, you should be prepared to wait depending on the capacity already present. Organisers will be prioritising safety so will ensure visitors have enough space to socially distance while inside the building. Those who have pre-booked tickets are advised to have a digital copy on their phone, unless otherwise advised by the ticket provider.
Be aware, government restrictions and advice could change at any time so keep visiting the Open House website frequently for the most up to date information.
Metro Girl’s favourite Open House London posts
Check out MG’s blog archives of previous Open House London visits to buildings taking part in this year’s festival:
- Caroline Gardens Chapel, Asylum Road, Peckham, SE15 2SG. Nearest station: Queen’s Road Peckham. Open Sun 20, 10am-5pm.
- City Hall. Online only. Check out the Open House London listing for more details.
- Crossness Pumping Station, The Old Works, Thames Water Sewage Treatment Works, Bazalgette Way, SE2 9AQ. Nearest station: Abbey Wood (then a bus). Pre-booking required. Open Sun 20, sessions at 10am and 1.30pm.
- Emery Walker’s House. Online only. Check out the OHL listing for more details.
- Fitzrovia Chapel, Pearson Square, Fitzrovia, W1T 3BF. Nearest station: Goodge Street or Tottenham Court Road. Open Sun 20. 10am-5pm.
- God’s Own Junkyard, Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, Walthamstow, E17 9HQ. Nearest station: Walthamstow Central or Wood Street. Open Sat 19 11am-10pm, Sun 20 11am-6pm, demonstrations of neon bending on Sat 26 and Sun 27. Check out the OHL listing for more detail.
- Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, Shoreditch, EC1V 9LT. Nearest station: Old Street or Hoxton. Open Sat 19 and Sun 20 10am-4.30pm. Guided tours only. Check out the OHL listing for more details.
- The Old Finsbury Town Hall. Online only. Check out the OHL listing for more detail.
- The Royal Society. Online only. Check out the OHL listing for more detail.
- Turner’s House, Sandycombe Lodge, 40 Sandycombe Road, Twickenham, TW1 2LR. Nearest station: St Margaret’s. Pre-booking required. Open Sat 19 and Sun 20 10am-1pm.
- Two Temple Place, 2 Temple Place, Temple, WC2R 3BD. Nearest station: Temple, Holborn or Charing Cross. Pre-booking required. Open Sat 19 10am-3.30pm, Sun 20 10am-3pm.
This year, there will also be podcasts, Open House films and publication of a new book, The Alternative Guide to the London Boroughs. Wherever you explore – be it virtually or in person – I wish you a safe and fun Open House London experience!
- Open House London 2020 takes place 19-20 September, while the Open House Festival runs from 19-27 September 2020. For more information, visit the Open House London website.
For more of Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.
For a guide to what’s on in London in October 2020, click here.
Test your knowledge of London and its history in your next virtual pub quiz with these questions and answers.
Earlier in the Covid-19 pandemic, Metro Girl published its first Ultimate London Quiz. It proved popular with many readers, so here’s a sequel! Although lockdown has eased, many people are still sheltering at home so quizzes can provide an opportunity for entertaining and socialising.
Next time you’re hosting a Zoom, Hangouts or House Party video quiz with your friends and family, why not test them on their knowledge of London?
Here’s a specially selected 20 questions and answers on the capital, If you don’t know all the answers, hopefully you may learn something new instead.
This second London quiz covers a wide range of trivia and history, from Roman Londinium, to Victorian train stations to The Shard.
London quiz questions
Q1) Britain’s oldest door can be found in which religious building in London?
Q2) Which English monarch brought in the rule that the Tower of London’s ravens should be protected?
Q3) Which London department store has a weathervane on the roof depicting The Mayflower?
Q4) What is the capital’s oldest mainline train station in zone one?
Q5) How many times has London hosted the Olympic Games?
Q6) What year did the Romans found Londinium? A) AD72, B) 10BC or C) AD43.
Q7) Which European country donates a Christmas tree to the City of Westminster every year?
Q8) The Buxton Memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens (beside the Houses of Parliament) commemorates which important law?
Q9) Which famous talk show host was born at Highgate tube station?
Q10) Which Soho street is named after a Charles Dickens character?
Q11) How many Premier League football teams are there in London?
Q12) Who was the first monarch to live in Buckingham Palace?
Q13) Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital in which London attraction/building?
Q14) Great Ormond Street Hospital hold the rights to which famous children’s book?
Q15) What London street is famous for its medical clinics?
Q16) What is the shortest line on the London Underground network?
Q17) Six people climbed The Shard in 2013 to protest in the name of which charity?
Q18) What London park hosts a temporary pavilion every summer?
Q19) What do you call the Royal Navy equivalent of the Chelsea Pensioners?
Q20) Brunel’s Thames Tunnel connected the south London district of Rotherhithe with which East London district?
Details of outdoor and drive-in cinemas in and around London, including ticket prices, locations and more
This summer, our social lives have been changed beyond all recognition due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the lockdown is gradually easing in stages, going to the cinema is a more complex activity as we practice social distancing. However, film fans missing their big screen experience can now book a ticket for one of London’s outdoor or drive-in cinemas, there’s even a floating film experience for those interested in hiring a boat. For those with a car and don’t mind travelling a bit further, there are also drive-ins appearing outside the capital in the home counties. Some cinemas are even extending their usual summer season until late October.
Key: 🧘 Seated viewings only (you may need to bring a blanket/cushion)
🚗 Can only attend in a car
- 3 – 19 July : Celestial Drive-In Cinema
Boasting London’s largest LED screen, Celestial Cinema are screening classic and modern favourites for drive-in audiences. Food and drink available. Daytime and evening screenings available. Tickets start from £29.50 for one car with two people. Flamingo Park, Sidcup By-Pass Road, Chislehurst, Kent BR7 6HL. For more information, visit the Celestial Cinema website. 🚗
- 4 July – 23 September : The Drive In
A new drive-in cinema offers film screenings and live experiences (e.g. musical performances, theatre, etc) in Enfield. With refreshments available, social distancing guidelines and the audio beamed in through your car stereo. Tickets: One car £35. The Drive In, Troubadour Meridian Water Harbet Road, Enfield, N18 3QQ. For tickets and more information, visit The Drive In website. 🚗
- 4 July – 31 October : Rooftop Film Club presents Drive In Film Club
This summer, the Rooftop Film Club are launching a drive-in experience for those with cars while their usual rooftop experience is on hold. Food and drink will be available, delivered to your car by roller-skating servers. Daytime and evening screenings available. Tickets: One vehicle £27.50-£29 (depending on screening time). Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. For more information, visit the Rooftop Film Club website. 🚗
- 5 July – 20 September : Sunset Cinema
Enjoy a US-style, vintage drive-in experience. Food and drink available to pre-order, as well as on the night. Movies include Rocketman, Dirty Dancing, La La Land, Mamma Mia!, Grease, Knives Out, Back To The Future, and more. Tickets: £50 (1 car and 2 passengers), £15 for each additional passenger. Twyford Avenue Sports Ground, Twyford Avenue, Acton, W3 9QA. For more information, visit the Sunset Cinema website. 🚗
- 5 July – 31 August : The Drive-In (from Secret Cinema and Goodwood)
Enjoy a drive in experience in Chichester, West Sussex (80 miles from London). The famous Goodwood Motor Circuit is teaming up with Secret Cinema and Häagen-Dazs to host screenings of classics and family favourites, such as Toy Story, Pretty Woman, Dirty Dancing, The Incredibles and more. Tickets: £50-£57.50 (1 car and up to 5 passengers). Discounts available for NHS workers. Goodwood Motor Circuit, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0PX. For more information, visit the Secret Cinema website. 🚗
- 6 – 12 July and 16 – 21 September : @TheDriveIn
Suzuki presents @TheDriveIn is a new experience offering film screenings, as well as stand-up comedy, bingo and silent car discos. The experience will be travelling around UK cities, but will be making stops in London at Circus Field in Blackheath (6-12 July) and Pudding Mill Lane car park in Stratford (16-21 September). Tickets: £38.50 (per car). For more information, visit the @TheDriveIn website. 🚗
- 21 July – 10 October : Luna Cinema
Luna Cinema are hosting their usual outdoor summer screens, as well as drive-in experiences for those Londoners who are fortunate enough to have a car. Among the venues for their pop-up alfresco screenings include Morden Hall Park, Hampton Court Palace, Tooting Bec Common, Dulwich Park, Brockwell Lido, Marble Hill, Wimbledon Park, Wandsworth Park, Chiswick House & Gardens, Gunnersby Park, Walpole Park, Holland Park, Kensington Park, Regents Park, Kenwood House, Alexandra Palace, Old Royal Naval College (Greenwich), Danson House, Swanley Park, Royal Hospital Chelsea, Victoria Tower Gardens, Victoria Embankment Gardens. Meanwhile, the Luna Drive in Cinema will be popping up at Allianz Park in Hendon and Printworks in Rotherhithe. Films include a mix of classic and newer releases. Tickets: Adults £16-£18, Children £13.50. Drive-in tickets: £29.50-£39.50 (depending on car size, capacity and position to screen). For more information on the Luna’s outdoor cinema, visit their website, or for the drive-in cinema, click here. 🚗🧘
- 21 August – 20 September : Summer Showtime on the Coaling Jetty @ Battersea Power Station
Arclight Cinema and The Turbine Theatre are teaming up to present film screenings (and other entertainment) on its Coaling Jetty by Battersea Power Station. Screening a range of classic and more recent releases. Tickets range from £27-£45 for pallets and pitches. The Coaling Jetty, Battersea Power Station, SW11 8AB. Nearest stations: Battersea Park, Queenstown Road Battersea or Sloane Square. For booking, visit the Arclight Cinema website. 🧘
- 2 – 27 September : Openaire Float-In Cinema
A pop-up cinema with a difference! Enjoy a classic or recent popular film while sitting in a boat or a deckchair by the canal. You can pick up a GoBoat from Little Venice and enjoy a trip down the canal to Paddington, or grab a waterside deckchair. Tickets: Boat hire + up to 6 people £215 or deckchair £16.50pp. Paddington Basin Canal (by Merchant Square), Paddington, W2 1AS. Nearest station: Edgware Road or Paddington. For booking and more information, visit the Openaire website. 🧘⛵️
29 July – 30 August : Free Range Film ClubCANCELLED
Roaming outdoor cinema travels to three (and more to come) alfresco spaces around the capital, showcasing new and classic films. Bring a blanket (no furniture) and you will be given an allocated space, socially distanced from others for your safety. Street food and licensed bar available. Tickets: £20 (+ booking fee). For more information on the Free Range Film Club, visit their website.
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More articles to entertain you during lockdown
Contemporary artists Robert Sample, Joseph Loughborough and Bael feature in the June 2020 exhibition.
Lockdown may be easing in some areas, but art lovers are still patiently waiting to return to London’s galleries. While you may not be able to visit art displays in person, the Ben Oakley Gallery have just launched a new 3D art exhibition to enjoy in lockdown.
Contemporary artists Robert Sample, Joseph Loughborough and Bael will showcase their drawings and paintings in the new exhibition, Triptych. Having launched on 12 June, the three-man exhibition is available to view in 3D, along with the new virtual reality gallery space. These three artists have very different styles, but each explores the human figure in this new exhibition.
Sample’s signature gritty style is on show, with his latest work depicting monochromatic figures in oil paint. Meanwhile, Bael focuses on stillness and simplicity with delicate lines and hints of colour. Finally, Loughborough’s dreamy work brings the viewer to another dimension.
- The Triptych exhibition is on virtually until 28 June 2020. To book your time slot, email the gallery. For more information, please visit BenOakleyGallery.com.
For more of Metro Girl’s art posts, click here.
London-themed questions and answers for your next virtual pub quiz.
Thanks to the likes of Zoom, Houseparty and other video conference apps, many of us have been taking part in virtual pub quizzes as the lockdown continues.
If you’re hosting a video quiz and want to test your friends and/or family’s knowledge of the capital, here’s 20 questions and answers.
This London quiz covers elements of the capital’s history from Londinium to Shakespeare to prisons.
Most of the questions will put your memory to the test, although there’s a couple of multiple choice options to help your participants out.
See just how well your friends and family really know London.
London quiz questions
Q1) What is hidden underneath Cleopatra’s Needle?
Q2) What narcotic used to be sold at Harrods until the early 20th century?
Q3) Pentonville and Holloway prisons are located in which London borough?
Q4) The City of London building 20 Fenchurch Street is better known by which nickname?
Q5) Which London rail station is named after a former priory?
Q6) Which City of London church inspired the tiered wedding cake design?
Q7) Name the architect who designed both the Battersea Power Station and the Tate Modern’s building.
Q8) What decade did the last execution at the Tower of London take place in? A) 1960s B) 1910s or C) 1940s?
Q9) Which London tube station is closest to Little Venice?
Q10) How many people died in the Great Fire of London? A) Six B) 112 or C) 25?
Q11) Boudica, who led a revolt on Roman London in AD60 or 61, was the Queen of which Celtic tribe?
Q12) In which London neighbourhood can you find ‘Little Portugal?’
Q13) Before establishing The Globe on Bankside, William Shakespeare used to tread the boards in which East End district?
Q14) The lions at the bottom of Nelson’s Column are identical – true or false?
Q15) Which London park is home to a pet cemetary?
Q16) Which mythical figure represents the City of London?
Q17) In which London neighbourhood can you find Charles Dickens’ former home and now museum?
Q18) In what U.S. state can you find the old London Bridge, which was sold by the City of London in the 1960s?
Q19) What the original use of the building which now houses the Imperial War Museum?
Q20) EastEnders’ fictional neighbourhood Walford shares the same E20 postcode as which east London area? Read the rest of this entry
Enjoy virtual tours of the city’s museums and galleries as the Covid-19 pandemic keeps us home.
The continuing lockdown means our museums and galleries are still closed for the foreseeable future. If you’re missing your culture fix while stuck at home during the Coronavirus pandemic, why not enjoy some of London’s top exhibitions and galleries online?
Here’s where to find 10 virtual tours of London’s museum and galleries:
- Andy Warhol @ Tate Modern
The Bankside museum closed its doors just days after its Warhol exhibition launched. However, the Tate swiftly put an online tour for art fans to enjoy, with commentary by curators Gregor Muir and Fiontán Moran.
– To see the Warhol exhibition tour, visit the Tate’s YouTube channel.
- Langlands & Bell: Degrees of Trust @ Sir John Soane Museum
The current exhibition at the Sir John Soane Museum has been put online for (virtual) visitors to enjoy. Contemporary artists Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell’s pieces have been showcased alongside the contrasting antiquities of the museum.
– To see the online exhibition, visit the Sir John Soane Museum website.
- Harry Potter: A History of Magic @ British Library
The British Library’s 2017-2018 exhibition on Harry Potter was hugely popular and displayed the original drafts and drawings of JK Rowling and illustrator Jim Kay. Although the exhibition is long over and the BL’s doors are currently closed, you can enjoy the collection online.
– To see the online exhibition, visit Google Arts & Culture.
- Picasso & Paper @ Royal Academy of Arts
The RA’s exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s works on paper opened in January and was due to run until April. Although real-life visits are on hold, you can enjoy a virtual exhibition tour on the RA’s website instead.
– Watch the video on the Royal Academy of Arts website.
- Science Museum
There’s many ways for you to explore the Science Museum virtually, including a Google Streetview tour, curator gallery guides, collections and stories.
Visit some of London’s most iconic buildings without leaving your sofa.
Most Londoners would agree they often take the city for granted normally, let alone now. As our ongoing lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic continues, many of us are looking lustfully over #throwback photos on social media wondering when we’ll be able to explore the capital again. Or perhaps, you’re a would-be tourist whose trip to London was postponed or cancelled.
During the current Coronavirus crisis, I’ve put a lot of my usual events and ‘what’s on’ content on hiatus and have instead been focusing on London history and architecture. While researching the background of some of the capital’s most iconic buildings, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find how many of their websites provide virtual tours.
So if you’re feeling bored and missing walking around the capital, why not enjoy a virtual stroll around some of these iconic London sights.
Check out Metro Girl’s round-up of 10 art and museum exhibitions you can view online.
Ten virtual tours of London buildings
- Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Explore the striking Victorian government offices of Whitehall, which were built in the 1860s. Gaze at George Gilbert Scott’s designs, such as the Grand Staircase, the Locarno Suite and Durbar Court. Although usually off-limits to the public, you can usually get a peek during Open House London in September.
– For a virtual tour, visit the FCO website.
- Middle Temple Hall
The public rarely gets to step inside the 16th century hall in the Temple legal district. This historic building has an impressive hammerbeam roof and is said to have hosted the first ever performance of William Shakespeare‘s Twelfth Night in front of Queen Elizabeth I.
- Sky Garden
The ‘Walkie Talkie’ is the nickname for the City of London skyscraper 20 Fenchurch Street. Its top floors are home to a garden, bar, restaurants and viewing platform, giving wonderful views of the capital.
- Somerset House
The multi-space arts and entertainment venue has a contrasting mix of old and new architectural features inside the 18th century riverside building.
The iconic market is extending its delivery service amid the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.
Life in London has changed rapidly for most of us in the past couple of weeks amid the current Covid-19 outbreak. However, while things are obviously different, it’s important that Londoners support each other and our local businesses during this difficult time.
London’s famous Borough Market has extended its online delivery services to customers within the M25. While the market remains open with strict hygiene and public health measures in place to protect shoppers and traders, it is also offering food and drink delivery to those Londoners who can’t get to SE1.
Borough Market launched its deliveries by zero-emission electric bikes in November 2019, initially within a 2.5 mile radius. However, in light of the Coronavirus crisis, the radius has been extended to any location inside the M25 from 19 March 2020. Electric bikes couriers will be used for a reasonable distance of the market, but vans (hybrid whenever possible) will be used for deliveries further away. Traders and couriers will follow strict hygiene practices with food securely packaged and an option of contactless delivery system if needed if customers are self-isolating and want to avoid contact with others. Meanwhile, the click-and-collect service is also available daily from 12pm-9pm if you’re able to reach the market.
In the coming weeks, Borough Market will be supporting the local community. Trader Bread Ahead is offering free yeast to locals who want to bake their own bread at home. Foodies can also find plenty of inspiration for their home cooking with hundreds of free online recipes, as well as live cooking demos and cookalongs from top chefs and market restaurants on the Borough Market Community Facebook Group.
- To order produce from Borough Market’s traders, visit the Good Sixty website. For more information about the market, visit its official website.
To find out the history of Borough Market, click here.